Kelly Rutherford 'Trying to Process' NY Court's Decision to Return Her Children to Monaco

Rutherford spoke out exclusively to "Good Morning America."

August 14, 2015, 9:27 AM

— -- Actress Kelly Rutherford says she is “trying to process” and “make sense of” a New York court’s decision to return her two children to their father in Monaco after they spent five weeks in the United States with their mother.

“I just feel like their voices have not been heard, in a way,” Rutherford, 46, said today on “Good Morning America" of her two children, Hermes, 8, and Helena, 6. “I walked into a courtroom where everything felt like it was already done. It was a done deal.”

“His mother was sitting there with plane tickets, smiling, ready to take them,” Rutherford said of ex-husband Daniel Giersch. “Nobody had heard our argument. I was accused of things that I was not able to even defend.”

The “Gossip Girl” star and Giersch have been locked in a bitter custody battle since 2012.

The parents, who divorced in 2009, had a joint custody arrangement until German-born Giersch lost his U.S. visa and a California judge ruled that the two children should stay with him in Europe. This past April, a judge in the U.S. Federal Court in New York denied Rutherford's request to bring the children back to the United States.

Just one month later, in May, Rutherford won temporary sole custody from a California judge and was given back her children's passports so they could return to the United States.

After spending the summer with Rutherford, the children were supposed to be returned to Giersch in Monaco last Friday. But Rutherford kept the children instead, an action she says led to accusations of kidnapping when she appeared in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday.

“I think kidnapping is when no one knows where the children are,” she said on “GMA.” “I was in communication.”

“The kids were Skypeing with him every day,” she said of Giersch. “I wrote him an email telling him exactly that nobody had jurisdiction in my country and I was concerned until somebody gave me some order that said they were coming back.”

The next court date for Rutherford and Giersch is Sept. 3 in Monaco, where the two will work out custodial decision making and more.

Rutherford says Monaco has been “incredibly kind” and “very respectful” to her and her children so she is hopeful for the hearing.

“Monaco didn’t demand them back, New York just sent them back,” Rutherford said. “It was a very odd, you know, odd situation. I think that Monaco has been put in this position because of the decisions that have been made here in the U.S.”

Rutherford’s attorney, Wendy Murphy, says the “saddest part” of her client’s situation is that “no American court seems to give a damn.”

“The children’s father and Kelly and the court agreed it would be a temporary stay abroad while the father got a U.S. visa, or tried,” Murphy said of the 2012 decision. “And for three years he did nothing."

“Here’s the agreement that matters,” Murphy added. “The father agreed, and the children were told, ‘You’re not staying here forever. It’s temporary. I, your father, agree, you will return to your own country if I don’t get a visa. He violated his agreement. He violated an American court order.”

Rutherford says she is hearing from “so many people” who find themselves in similar situations and has become an advocate for families in her kind of custody battle.

“I was just in D.C. speaking with members of Congress and the State Department,” she said. “There needs to be some laws put in place here...I shouldn’t be having to fight this in a foreign court at this point. This is not what was the intention of the order.”

In the days since Hermes and Helena were whisked from the New York courtroom by Giersch’s mother, Rutherford says she has spoken with the children. Though the court ruling was not the outcome she wanted, the actress says she is grateful for how the kid’s departure played out.

“I was happy the way it ended up happening because they didn’t have to sit in a courtroom and watch it all happen or deal with media or anything that would have been sort of harmful I think,” she said. “I think it was in a moment, ‘Oh, your grandma is here. Now we’re going to go. You’re going to go see your dad.’

“We just all had to sort of be up for them.”

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